Love or hate David Cage and his studio Quantic Dream, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t care. Nothing can compare to Cage’s one true Love, Polygons! A running joke ever since he represented his studio during the PlayStation 4 reveal back in February, in which David revealed a very well rendered old man’s face. So we know that if a project is in the works at Quantic Dream, then you know it’s going to be pretty.
Beyond Two Souls is no exception to expectation with gorgeous looking characters and levels that combine with an amazing soundtrack and a 2000 page script of dialogue, all that come together to create a cinematic title that feels like more of an interactive blockbuster movie that a video game. Much like Heavy Rain before it, Beyond is going to have it’s air share of negative backlash. As a fan myself of Quantic Dream, I am very much looking forward two the title’s release, especially more so since my hands on experience at this year’s Eurogamer Expo.
Starting off with the first demo called “The Experiment” and introduces the player to young Jodie Holmes (Ellen Page), who supposedly is just eight years old in this section, where she part of an experiment run by the Department of Paranormal Activities. A Male nurse comes to take you to another room in which you are given the same Heavy Rain dialogue options represented by button graphics that float around the character. Rather than follow to the next section as asked, you may wonder around the room interacting with objects such as toys and a guitar. As you follow the Nurse to the next room you are led down a corridor with other Medical looking professionals who you can stand around and listen to. Upon reaching the next room you sit down in a chair with a table in front and the Nurse places a contraption on Jodie’s head (which looks like the failed mind reader from Back to the Future), whilst he refers to it as her crown. We’re then shown that Jodie has pictorial cards in font of her (Like Ghostbusters) and that there is a woman in the room opposite with the same cards. This is when Nathan Dawkins (Willem Dafoe) is introduced.
Dawkins begins testing and asks Jodie to guess which cards are being held by the woman in the next room, this is where the fun starts. By pressing the ‘Triangle’ button you can switch to the supernatural being Aiden, who is used to pass though walls between rooms and let you know which cards are in play. Controlling Aiden is a bit tricky at first with his (I’ll assume it’s a he?), controls acting quite sensitive and take some getting used to. Nathan then asks if Jodie is able to do anything else, to which you can once again take control of Aiden and instead of just looking around, you can use him to cause trouble by doing things like; flipping chairs, denting radiators, shorting out cameras and (if your as evil as me), even going as far as to start choking the life out of the poor woman next door (I’m not sure if this action can be avoided but hey, I was having too much fun at this point). After a while Jodie shouts at Aiden for him to stop but it’s obvious he”s not listening anymore and continues to terrorise the woman whist Jodie screams her little lungs out. A cut-scene is then triggered where Dawkins breaks down the door to help comfort Jodie, who at this point is bleeding from the nostrill. “It’s over” Nathan says whilst he holds a near traumatized Jodie, she replies “It will never be over” and the scene finishes.
I found this to be a pretty decent set up, moving much faster pace than the ‘family simulation’ of Heavy Rain (much less setting plates up on the table).
Once the screen lights back up we find what seems to be a Teenage version of Jodie, complete with full Ellen Page features, getting ready of some kind of CQC training. This section serves as the combat control tutorial and is a bit faster paced than what has been learnt thus far. As you’re sparring with a man of much larger stature, you learn the various techniques by the camera slowing down, the screen changing colour and a direction being displayed, showing which way to push the right analogue stick. After a few moves, the directions are removed and you’re on your own to work out the moves (for instance, to duck you’d push the stick down). Seems easy enough but it took me more than one try to get my head around it, especially when a quick camera angle changes can obscure perspective. This section is over quick enough (unless you mess up a few time like me) and one again the camera fades out.
At this point my journey into Beyond Two Souls ended as the demo abruptly crashed and from multiple returns, took a fair few hours to get working again (it’s my curse whenever I go to an Expo or a Con), but thanks to the British institution that is queuing I tried again.
Next up is the second demo called “The Hunted” and it starts off with Jodie asleep on the train. In this scene she seems older than the combat training though I couldn’t really gauge on how much time had actually passed at this point. Whilst Jodie naps away you begin as Aiden floating around the carriage and interacting with objects if you wish. Whilst I was queuing earlier I saw people playing around with Jodie’s stuff and waking her up, I decided against this for some weird nurturing instinct for which I can only blame The Walking Dead and instead opted to wind up other passengers by messing up their luggage and spilling over coffee cups. Some time into my trolling, another cut-scene activated which showed the train coming to a stop before being approached by the Police (the forces, not the band). At this point you can either wake Jodie up to warn her, or you can just leave her be, I went with warning her pretty early on.
Depending on how long it takes you to wake Jodie is meant to increase/decrease your difficulty in getting away from the coppers. However, if you want some action quickly then you can choose not to wake her causing some confrontation before a fight scene. I got away rather quickly and avoided interaction with the cops until I had gotten further down the train pulling off some flashy evasive and attacking manoeuvres before reaching the toilet. This is where Aiden comes in handy as his powers can be used to blast the roof off and aid in Jodie’s escape. climbing up on top of the train (showing off a nice looking night time raining atmosphere), Jodie ends up being swarmed by Policemen, having to fend them off until being forced to jump off of the train to evade capture. This means Aiden to the rescue once again as he creates a kind of protective barrier to shield his protected from the fall, allowing Jodie to land safely. now that the Police have finished their pursuit, you find yourself standing in the middle of a darkened Forest. At this point for other players that missed a quick time event, had lost Jodie’s coat to a Cop during a quick time event causing her to be cold as well as wet.
Navigating the Forest proved rather difficult, mainly because I was not able to adjust the screen brightness, nor was there any in-game options to do so. Thanks to the default display, it was dark… very dark. Still being pursued by the boys in blue, you are tasked with rushing past trees and other obstacles. I’m sure playing the game on release this section will prove easier but with the settings at default, I ended up hurting Jodie more often than helping her. Upon passing a certain point, while the Police didn’t catch up in their pursuit, the dogs did. This led to more quick time event style fights as you take to arms using a stick to fend off the hounds of justice. Once you’ve finished beating the living daylights out of the attack pups, you may go back to escaping.
Just to quickly point out, during my play through, my version of Jodie was considerable more damaged than that of other player attempts (I suck).
After keeping dogs off your trail, you must take Jodie though a climbing exercise that bears a striking resemblance to a section in Heavy Rain in both feel and control scheme. Tasked with climbing a rock wall, you must follow a sequence of button directions that appear rather slowly up on screen, the higher you climb the QTE will speed up and failure to keep up and you will be penalised and take damage, the more damage you take then the likelier you are to fail the level. Scale the wall and then hide from the cops, before you know it you’re free… for now.
So what’s the point of being telepathically linked to an all powerful supernatural being if all you’re going to do it use him to just knock over coffee cups and blow around papers? Well now is the time you get to see what Aiden is really capable of. Far from the original smashing antics of the testing room at the start of the demo, you now must actually display powers of possession by taking control of other humans and as you’d imagine, it’s rather fun.
When floating around as Aiden you’ll see certain cops will be displayed as either blue or orange colours, it’s orange highlights you must look out for as that means you can take control of them. I choose to use my freshly taken over body to hijack a car and drive it into a guard rail, slamming it again and again, causing quite the distraction. Once everyone is suitably occupied with the rogue vehicle, Jodie is free to steal one of the coppers’ motorbikes. In the build up to cycle theft I really expected to lead into another cut scene but on no no, instead I was treated to a driving section of controlling Jodie as she races down a dark winding road,looking over her shoulder at the pursuing police chopper in tow. When you reach the end of the journey you come face to face with a mass of officers and their roadblock, Jodie stops the bike and it looks as if she has admitted defeat. Pleading for Aiden to step in and help, Jodie pushes the pedal to the metal and heads straight for the blockade before the familiar ‘ghostly’ shield takes from around the bike allowing you to zip straight through the barrier effortlessly, throwing men and cars out of your path. A Lead Officer (who had originality appeared in the fighting tutorial watching Jodie spar), puts the call out on his radio that Jodie has escaped and that she’s headed towards the next town.
Predictably, as Jodie rides into town the police are waiting and shoot the motorbike causing her to crash before scampering to hide behind a parked car and rest her wounds. It’s now Aiden’s time to shine as he wreaks havoc, attacking all the surrounding cops. Much like your mini rampage at the start of the game, you have not real sequenced pattern and instead attack who you want and how you want. Recalling what exactly I did here is difficult as I was just having was to much fun (sinister I know), the stand out moment however had to be the point I possessed an enemy officer, took his hand grenade and lobbed it into a nearby petrol station… which was awesome! I was told after that I could of in fact used Aiden to take control of a helicopter and nose dive it into the ground, killing everyone in the area.
The demo came to it’s end with Jodie grabbing the Lead Officer and asking him very nicely to leave her the F**k alone, before walking away in the fire and rain.
As a massive fan of both Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophesy) and Heavy Rain I expect to feel the same about Beyond Two Souls un it’s official release on the 8th October. Judging by reactions of other public players it went down well with them too.
If you like the sound of the demo and want to try it for yourself, then you’re in luck as the lovely people at Quantic Dream have mad the full demo shown at the Eurogamer Expo available on the PlayStation Network, which I highly recommend you download.